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Democrats: We Need to Raise Domestic Spending Caps

WASHINGTON – A group of House Democrats called on the GOP-led Congress to increase the FY2018 defense and non-defense domestic spending caps.

House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said the Republican leadership must lift the caps right away to “avoid a last-minute” government shutdown in September.

“We need a budget framework that makes it possible for Congress to pass appropriations bills and allows our nation the flexibility to meet our responsibilities at home and abroad,” Lowey said at a press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday. “I’m concerned about the failure to raise spending caps, combined with a late start and an erratic president who seems to want a government shutdown.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) called the Trump FY2018 budget “not real” and a “pretense” that won’t ever be implemented.

“If we are going to act responsibly on behalf of the national security of this country and on security in the global community, we will adopt a budget that does in fact lift the caps,” Hoyer said. “We need to get real. We need to get responsible and we need to get it right for the American people.”

Hoyer said the American public is seeing a “lack of leadership” from the White House and the Office of Management and Budget.

“It is the kind of leadership that voted to shut down the government of the United States of America and the kind of leadership in OMB that voted not to open up the government of the United States of America to protect the American people,” he said.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), ranking member on the Budget Committee, said the Trump administration should not be pitting defense and non-defense spending “against each other,” arguing that they have to be treated as two separate spending categories. Yarmuth labeled the Trump FY2018 budget “reckless” for reducing the budget for certain agencies. The budget proposal raises defense spending by about $54 billion while lowering non-defense spending by the same amount with reductions including a 28 percent cut to the State Department budget.

“We don’t want to pit teachers against soldiers. We don’t want to pit fighter jets against cars and trains,” he said. “For the long-term success of our country, we have to raise the caps and make the investments the American people want and deserve.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said the Trump budget would hurt the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“This continues an all-out assault on our environment. Now, I’ve been thinking we really should rename the EPA to be the agency for clean air, clean water and human health because that’s what the EPA really does. And it’s important that the American people understand what we are talking about because it is the agency that truly allows Americans to breathe free,” Jayapal said. “This proposal is a cruel joke on working people. We need a budget that makes us healthier, safer and better off and we stand ready to fight for that.”